Campus organizations participate in Adopt-a-Highway program

Alissa Widman and Alissa Widman

A rewarding volunteer opportunity is located just a few miles down the road.

Through Ohio’s Adopt-a-Highway Program, a volunteer organization sponsored by the Ohio Department of Transportation, students can clean up Ohio by picking up litter along state and interstate highways.

According to Kim Roessner, coordinator for Northwest Ohio’s second district, ideas for Adopt-a-Highway originated in 1985 after Ohioans traveled to Texas and witnessed a similar program there. She said the program officially began in Ohio in 1989, and since then has expanded to include at least one volunteer group in every county in the state.

Roessner said Ohio now has 1,400 groups statewide and 122 groups in district two.

Organizations involved with Adopt-a-Highway agree to the upkeep of a two mile stretch of highway, Roessner said. Funding is provided by ODOT, which includes the expenses for safety training, trash bags, safety vests, temporary signs to alert traffic and a permanent sign denoting the adopting group’s name – all small costs compared to the money Adopt-a-Highway’s volunteer work saves.

‘Each group that adopts a highway saves about $800 in litter pickup per year. If you do the math, just in our district alone, we’re saving the state $97,000,’ Roessner said. ‘Normally each year, ODOT spends $5 million on litter removal, so anything we can do to alleviate that cost is helpful.’

Roessner said 12 University organizations are currently involved with Adopt-a-Highway, including organizations like Army ROTC, men’s soccer, Environmental Service Club, as well as numerous fraternities and sororities.

Army ROTC’s Royal Greens Club has been involved with the program for several years, President Adam Murray said.

‘We’re a community-based service club and our goal is to keep the ROTC of BGSU connected with the Bowling Green community,’ Murray said. ‘We’re always looking for different service projects that are particularly geared toward giving back to the community and this seemed like a good event for us to participate in, so we pursued it.’

Murray said the Royal Greens Club sends a group of about 10 to 15 volunteers every few months to pick up litter on their highway, a two mile stretch on State Route 25.

‘It’s important to keep our highways clean and we can help keep things looking nice,’ Murray said. ‘We plan on staying involved for as long as we can.’

Sigma Nu Philanthropy Chair Travis Parker said his fraternity became involved with Adopt-a-Highway last semester when it adopted a section of I-75 from mile markers 177 to 179. He said Sigma Nu gathers as many volunteers as possible to clean up the stretch at least twice a year, weather permitting.

‘We always encourage people to go because it’s good to be involved,’ Parker said. ‘We get to help the area near Bowling Green and make it a better place for all of us who go here.’

Parker said members of Sigma Nu also enjoy being involved in the community because it challenges the negative portrayals and stereotypes Greek organizations must unfortunately endure.

‘It shows [that] we’re more than what we’re portrayed as,’ he said. ‘[Our highway] is conveniently close to the school and people will see that we’re involved in the community when they pass our sign.’

Roessner said there are plenty of highway stretches still available for adoption.

She said additional University organizations and students interested in getting involved can contact her directly and obtain more information by visiting the ODOT Web site.

‘We really like having people volunteer to help clean up,’ Roessner said. ‘I think it’s a good free volunteer program for groups, and it’s helping keep pride in our travel ways in Ohio. We want people to come in and be proud of the way Ohio looks and this is one way to help us do that.”